Monday, March 30, 2009

Letter from Blake 3/16

All is well here. Our platoon was moved into white phase which should mean more responsibility for the Platoon Guides (PG) and the DS taking a more hands off or stand back approach. Our leaders were doing good because they had been in for a few days and had an idea of how things need to be done. I had the best position because I didn't actually have an official leadership role but I was the PG's advisor so to say. I was the bug that whispered ideas into the PG's ear.
Our platoon was assigned to stay at the Company Quarters along with Second Platoon. The DS's were out with the other platoons and had a bad day because when they got back DS Harbough fired everyone. It was a shock to us all.
The next leadership group lasted a day and 1/2. They were fired because they lost accountability of two rifles. DS Rosenbough had to go and retrieve one of the rifles from 1st Sergeant. They got us all chewed out and people (privates) fired from leadership. The other weapon owner now has to have his weapon tied to him day and night.
DS was in the middle of yelling at us when he stopped and called out Gray and myself. He said he was tired of experimental leadership and told everyone we were the new PG's. Afterwards he pulled us aside and told us to straighten the platoon out.
That puts us in a tough spot because we don't have any actual authority to enforce our commands. The positive is we have complete support from the DS's. We have been in for around a week now. Maybe a little less. The platoon semi-respects us and we can already see a difference in how we (the platoon) act. They pretty much know if I stand up and face everyone they are getting too loud and need to be quiet.
The past few days I have been intermixed with other platoons in lines and for chow for some reason and I have noticed our platoon rocks. We are rough around the edges but we are the best platoon at getting stuff done.
I like my position because I feel like I'm helping and being useful but I tell you, it is draining. I get to the point where I don't want anyone to call my name or ask me another question. All I want to do is sit in a room by myself in silence.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Blake asked me to post this

I was sitting in church on Sunday and I had the impression to write down my experience regarding joining the Army. When people would ask me why I signed up to join the Army my first response was "someone has to, why not me?" I said this as a jovial way to skirt the question. I did this because the decision Sara and I made regarding the Army is very personal to me, but as stated I feel inspired to share it.
At the end of summer break 2008 I went on a backpacking trip with some friends of mine and my dad. It was a great trip. The week after was also the week before Fall semester started at Fresno State University. During that week, or rather at the beginning of that week, I had what I perceived as a random thought about joining the Army. I laughed at the notion of me in the Army. Sure, I like to hike and "rough it" but I never saw myself as an Army soldier. Throughout that week the "random thought" kept coming back to the point of waking up in the middle of the night thinking about it. I decided that this thought might not be so random.Once I considered that I might be receiving promptings it became blatantly obvious that I was.
I told Sara on the next Sunday it was that I felt prompted to look into joining the Army. When she knew I was acting because of a prompting she was immediately supportive. We went to the closest Army Recruiting Station to gain information. (Sara's note here - I had him look into ALL the military branches just to be sure.) SSG Williams assisted us and was very helpful and informative. Over the course of the next few months Sara and I met frequently with SSG Williams, fasted (I fasted, since Sara was pregnant she didn't. Jacob's appreciative I'm sure), talked, and prayed about this huge decision we were considering. After talking to countless relatives, friends, and associates who have served in the military and everything above mentioned, Sara and I felt that the Army is where I need to be.
I have always had respect for those who are in the armed services because their sacrifice is what allows me to live the life I do. Since I have been in Basic Combat Training that respect has grown because I have a small taste of what sacrifices service men and women have to make. However, despite patriotism, adventure and duty to country I am here for one main reason. My parents have always told me that Heavenly Father needs good men everywhere. I have tried to live my life to be considered a good man and my Heavenly Father has sent me to the Army for His own purposes. I cannot disobey. I will go and do whatever He commands and do my absolute best because I know His ways are higher then mine and I trust Him completely. What lies ahead I do not know. But I do know I am where my Father wants me to be and with His strength I truly can do all things.

Friday, March 20, 2009

From Blake March 12

On Tue the 10th I was at my wits end. I was first fed up with members of the platoon who insist on moving slow, not listening and getting us all smoked. That alone was managable. Then the Drill Sgts who were helping the other platoons out on the range came back in a bad mood because the range went bad (disorganized, privates not listening, not enough people zeroing their rifles.) When they came back DS Harbough fired the entire leadership of the platoon. What got to me is that our leadership was good. They were cleaning up the platoon. They had been in long enough to know the system and gain the respect of the platoon. Then for no reason on their parts they were fired. That pushed me over the edge. I grabbed my Book of Mormon and went for a walk. I sat, bowed my head and started praying. It was more of a prayer of emotion. I don't know if I actually communicated words but with prayer that doesn't matter. He understands our hearts. I opened the Book of Mormon to the page I was on in my regular reading. My eyes turned to 1 Ne 18:16. [16 Nevertheless, I did look unto my God, and I did praise him all the day long; and I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions.] Afflictions are to be born with patience all the while praising the Lord for all the things we are blessed with. My trust is that the Drill Sgts will recognize good performance and make decisions to help the platoon as a whole is still shattered. As well as my confidence that the platoon can be rallied to perform the way we should. But, with the strength of the the Lord I can do all things. Joshua 1:9

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Another letter from Blake!
2-9-09 - I was able to go to church yesterday. Another private came with me. We have to always have someone with us, called our battle buddy. This particular soldier hadn't been to church in years. He sat next to me in the non-denominational service and agreed to come for the other service as well. He and his wife recently got back together after being separated and felt like he needed to start going to church again. We left for church right as our platoon was beginning to form up for chow. Church was great. It felt so good to be among the Saints. Having the fellowship of other members is so important. I didn't realize that until I had no other members around. I have to always be mindful who I am and what my standards are all the time. It would be so easy to slip because I physically stand alone. Spiritually I am never alone. With Christ I can do all things. I never feel alone. Living my standards doesn't feel difficult to me.

Jacob ready to go for a walk.

Poor guy! He's smiling but I scared him half to death.

Happy again!!

Friday, March 6, 2009